Saturday 18 June 2022 8:45 AM UTC
LONDON June 18: The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) have launched a new consultation giving people the chance to have their say on proposed changes to our English language requirements when recruiting for the role of nurses, midwives and nursing associates in the UK.
Nurses, midwives and nursing associates joining the NMC register have to demonstrate strong English language skills as effective communication is vital for high-quality care.
NMC regularly review all their regulatory standards and requirements. Some people have concerns about whether our current English language requirements are fair and reliable for everyone.
NMC is now launching a consultation on our current English language requirements. It follows several months of collaboration with professionals, partners and stakeholders to gather initial views and build a clear evidence base for change.
This is an opportunity for you as a member of the public, patient, user of services, health and care professional, applicant, employer, union, education institution or representative group to share your thoughts.
See Below NMC Clarification on Reasons for the Consultation
Why are we looking at our English language requirements?
Effective communication is vital for high-quality, person-centred care and fundamental to public trust and confidence in health and care professionals. Clinical practice requires nurses, midwives, and nursing associates to communicate with patients and colleagues clearly, sensitively, and with kindness – very often on complex issues and in pressurised environments. This means it’s essential that everyone joining our register has strong English language skills. We keep all our regulatory standards and requirements under regular review. And so we’re now looking at how we make sure nurses, midwives and nursing associates have good enough English to join our register.
How can people prove they are competent in English at the moment?
In 2021–2022, more than 23,000 internationally trained professionals joined our register, and the vast majority had taken an English language test to do so. The two tests we currently accept are IELTS and OET, both of which are reputable, not-for-profit tests used by many regulators and other organisations around the world. Other ways to show us you have strong language skills are through having trained in English, or practised in an English-speaking country as a registered nursing or midwifery professional.
What we’ve heard so far
Over the past few months, we’ve been gathering views from professionals and our partners about our current English language requirements. We’ve reviewed and adjusted these on many occasions since they were introduced, but we know some people have concerns about whether they’re fair and proportionate for everyone. It’s a priority for us to make sure they are. Our pre-consultation engagement started with a roundtable event in November 2021. This included representatives from international professionals groups, employers, trade unions, test providers, and individuals who have experience of our English language processes. Since then we’ve continued to gather views from professionals, partners and the public, to build evidence to help us decide whether we should change our requirements. We’re grateful to everyone who’s shared their initial views with us about what they’d like to see change and why. Now it’s open to everyone to have their say through our consultation.
This consultation will close on 12 August at 23:59. We’ll then need to take some time to properly consider what everyone has told us. The earliest we expect to introduce changes is autumn 2022. We have shortened our usual consultation period from 12 weeks to eight to reflect people’s desire for us to act quickly. Our external research partner, Britain Thinks, is helping us use that time effectively to make sure we hear views from people with diverse backgrounds.
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